‘Trumparilla’: Trump Supporters Hold Boat Parades to Protest Cancellation of Pirate Festival

The annual Florida-based Gasparilla Pirate Festival was cancelled this year over coronavirus restrictions, but young ‘pirates’ – many from the Republican party – were not ready to let the vibe go.

Two conservative Florida groups joined forces this weekend to hold boat parades instead of the cancelled Gasparilla festival in Tampa Bay, angry with organisers and authorities that the epic pirate-themed event was postponed until next year over COVID precautions.

One group, led by Cliff Gephart – the owner of the Conservative Grounds coffee shop, which is a hotspot for supporters of ex-President Donald Trump – decided to devote the maritime parade to their beloved guru and dub it “Trumparilla”, while hosting a “Make America Great Again” rally alongside the festivities.

Another event in the “Trumparilla” schedule included a meeting with conservative political consultant Roger Stone, whom Donald Trump pardoned last December over charges that he had obstructed justice and made false statements to authorities about his communication with WikiLeaks in relation to the hacked DNC emails.

A price to “Roget Stone VIP” meeting for “friends” to chat with Trump’s close aide has dangled at $125 per ticket.

Gephart previously fumed to WTSP-TV over the cancellation of the legendary Gasparilla event, which has run annually since 1904, while the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers parades took place as planned:

“There was a boat parade for the Super Bowl and Stanley Cup, so why can’t there be another boat parade? So we started Trumparilla,” Gephart explained.

He earlier urged the public to refrain from taking part in the boat parade if they don’t feel they are “safe enough”.

Jake Hoffman, the chair of another conservative group, the Tampa Bay Young Republicans, wanted to stress that his side of the parade didn’t have anything to do with politics – instead it was a pure celebration of fun.  

“We wanted to make sure that everybody in the city of Tampa could participate in this,” Hoffman told Bay News 9. “It just so happened that more people that lean on the right are willing to go out and do a boat parade in this situation, so that’s who it’s going to attract.”

According to the Tampa Bay Young Republican’s page, people were invited to the unofficial “Gasparilla Boat Parade”, which added “pirates don’t cancel invasions”.

They also “don’t take orders from tyrants,” the event organisers added.

The two conservative groups said they have coordinated their efforts in hosting the less spectacular but still numerous boat parade. Meanwhile, Gasparilla’s official organisers, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG), clearly distanced themselves from the event.

In a Friday statement, they said that they had nothing to do with the efforts of the Young Republicans, who didn’t depart from the festival’s original name when promoting the maritime outing.

“Any use of the Gasparilla name in this manner is unauthorised and improper, and may be subject to legal action,” the YMKG said.

So for many, this year’s Republican-dominated side of the parade may now be remembered simply as Trumparilla. It’s highly unlike though that the former US president was one among those secretly riding the boats in the Tampa Bay this weekend.

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